The New Town — Coffee House scores with a variety of Malaysian street food and Continental fare

There are two things that most of us like doing while driving down the East Coast Road. One is wading into the warm frothy waters of the Bay of Bengal and two, snacking on what the numerous restaurants along the road have to offer. And thankfully, there are quite a few mushrooming en route giving us enough to choose from. The New Town — Coffee House is the fairly new kid on the block. Located opposite VGP Golden Beach, this cafe doesn’t give you the view of the sea, but the pretty wooden interiors with tempting photographs of food, and the dreamy al fresco seating area ensure you don’t miss the azure blue sea.

New Town follows a concept that originated in Malaysia. It’s street food that’s been popularised by the Tamil Muslims who sold them at their food stalls commonly known as mamak stalls.

The menu here therefore largely consists of popular Malaysian street food, Continental cuisine and a fair bit of Indian food too. Nasi goreng, nasi lemak, kaya toast, bangers and mash, kathi rolls, steaks, crispy noodles, biriyani, bruschetta, pasta … The accompanying friend who is on a gluten-free diet makes a big production of the decision making process. “No wraps, no sandwiches, no pasta…,” she lists out a whole lot of food items that’s off her diet list. As a result we decide… un-decide… ask the waiter to come back in 10 minutes and finally make our decision. Tenderloin teriyaki skewers and nasi lemak for her. Murtabak and cheese-stuffed drumstick for me.

The teriyaki skewer has succulent chunks of lamb wedged between capsicum and tomato. This has the potential to taste better. No wonder the friend generously pushes the plate towards me and buries herself into the nasi lemak that comes as a full plate of steamed rice, a piece of fried chicken, chicken gravy and a boiled egg. It’s among the most authentic lemak you will find in Chennai.

New Town Cafe is laidback; so is the service. But then nobody seems to be in a hurry. The neighbouring tables comprising a sullen couple, who don’t talk to each other but keep eating off each others’ plates, and a gang of college kids have been here for a while now and looks like they plan to stay longer.

It takes a while before the rest of our orders get to our table. The mughlai-styled drumstick is the perfect fusion of cheese and keema. Deboned tandoori chicken leg stuffed with mildly flavoured minced chicken, nuts and cheese is served on a bed of badam and cream-emulsified sauce. Easy to cut, great to eat; need I say more. The murtabak, which is basically parantha stuffed with minced chicken and carrots, is quite authentic too. Except that there’s an excess of grated carrot and we could barely taste the meat. Maybe all the meat we ordered had emptied out their cold cuts freezer.

The food is rather filling and the quantity is comfortable for two. We technically shouldn’t even be thinking of desserts. But when there are wafts of roti bom in the air you just have to give in. Strips of fluffy maida parota doused in condensed milk and honey is a challenge that one with a sweet tooth can barely resist. The dieting friend shows steely resolve… for a couple of minutes, and gives in. And, doesn’t stop with just one!

On a scale of 10, New Town scores a well-deserved eight. Their catch phrase says ‘The destination is truly worth the journey’, and we couldn’t agree more.

(New Town — Coffee House is located at No. 363, East Coast Road, Injambakkam. For details, call 91760-66866)